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Angie Schultz. [email protected] • 641-485-0001 • www.oppthumbs.com. Putting the "public" in public relations. Background: Iowa\'s Best Bite Restaurant Challenge. Background: Iowa\'s Best Bite. Historic building in downtown Grinnell remodeled into a restaurant

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slide1
Angie Schultz

[email protected] • 641-485-0001 • www.oppthumbs.com

background iowa s best bite
Background: Iowa\'s Best Bite
  • Historic building in downtown Grinnell remodeled into a restaurant
  • Housed moderately successful restaurant, business declined and restaurant closed
  • Building\'s owner engaged a local realtor to fill the premium space
  • Became apparent traditional methods would make filling the space difficult
  • Interested parties were unproven, or concepts competed with other restaurants
  • With more than 35 restaurants in Grinnell, a successful restaurant would need to find its own place in the dining market
slide5

Background: Iowa\'s Best Bite

  • Owner approached the Chamber for ideas
  • Chamber president thought a contest to generate excitement with restaurant professionals would be a good idea
  • Chamber asked Opposable Thumbs to create and manage a contest
  • Grinnell now has award winning Chef Carly Groben and Prairie Canary
  • We determined that it could be done again and built a template that could change Iowa’s rural dining landscape
  • Several cities agreed with us and we partnered with Oskaloosa for year two
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What is Iowa\'s Best Bite

  • Iowa\'s Best Bite is a nationwide talent search that attracts top quality restaurateurs to cities they may not otherwise be consider
  • We ask leaders in the community to gather money and services for a prize package that will help them start a restaurant with less debt
  • We promote the location and the city to chefs, restaurateurs and the media to attract great candidates
  • The contest REALLY transformed into a nationwide talent search AND a valuable marketing asset for the community and the winning restaurant
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How Does Iowa\'s Best Bite Work

  • Work with community leaders to identify needs:
    • Location - is there an existing restaurant building that needs to be filled, or is this a new location
    • Gap in dining market - many rural Iowans travel an hour or more to eat
    • Communication - helps create messaging
    • Prize package - determining what resources can the community gather to create the prize package
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How Does Iowa\'s Best Bite Work

  • Determine what the messaging will be:
    • What’s great about the location - or the physical structure of the building?
    • What’s great about the city - why would a top-notch restaurateur move to this city?
    • What’s the prize package?
    • Why is the contest being held?
    • How can one enter?
    • What are the communication obstacles?
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How Does Iowa\'s Best Bite Work

  • Create the messaging
  • Much of our messaging the first year was based on the obstacles we identified:
    • Opposition by existing restaurateurs
    • Attracting restaurateurs to Grinnell
    • Creating media appeal
    • Gaining local support for the prize package
slide12

How Does Iowa\'s Best Bite Work

  • Create the messaging
  • We developed the following key points used in all of our communication:
    • There is a premium empty restaurant space that WILL be filled. The competition is a way to ensure we don\'t bring in a direct competitor to an existing restaurant.
    • Operating a restaurant is a challenge - by giving a restaurateur what they need in cash, equipment and attention to get started, they are far more likely to succeed.
    • The competition would help enhance Grinnell as a regional dining destination.
    • The competition is open to anyone; local residents, existing restaurateurs and chefs across the nation.
    • By attracting attention to Grinnell\'s dining scene, the rising tide of attention would float all boats higher.
    • Rather than letting an investor, realtor or random luck determine Grinnell\'s next restaurant, the public should have a say in what they wanted in dining options in Grinnell.
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How Does Iowa\'s Best Bite Work

  • Create the messaging
  • After doing a needs assessment in Oskaloosa, we determined that the contest needed to be communicated differently
    • The existing restaurant was great, but the owners of the building wanted owner-operators to take the place to the next level, rather than hiring a management team.
    • The contest is an opportunity to get people to view Oskaloosa as a progressive and exciting city that thinks outside the box.
    • This is a fun way to celebrate more than $10 million in investment in downtown revitalization and city infrastructure.
    • This will mean local residents will be more likely to shop and dine locally.
    • Oskaloosa continues to work on improving quality of life for those looking to live, work and play there.
slide14

How Does Iowa\'s Best Bite Work

  • Create the collateral marketing material
    • Fact sheets
    • Press releases
    • Brochures
    • Posters/banners
    • Website
slide20

How Does Iowa\'s Best Bite Work

  • Public Participation: video voting and tasting judges
    • Key in helping Iowa\'s Best Bite work
    • Gives the community a voice
    • Allows community to accomplish great things
    • Provides future support for restaurant
slide22

Media Involvement

  • Iowa’s Best Bite and the two communities have been featured in the media in some ways the communities have found difficult in the past.
    • State media covered this year’s contest from the very beginning but only local media covered the finals
    • There have been followup stories in various media outlets
    • Year one we had trouble getting media attention until the finals – it was a new idea and we were told it "sounded to good to be true"
    • This year’s contest was filmed by a local crew and will be aired on Oskaloosa’s local channels. And we hope another Iowa TV outlet might be interested as well
    • We are in talks with a production company to take this idea to TV on a national scale. We are also developing a relationship with a major publishing house to gain national magazine coverage.
    • We are currently working to bring our unique model to other rural states, as well as perhaps developing similar competitions for other industries.
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Interesting facts and figures

  • The contest resulted in more than 60 “serious” entries from 8 states in the past two years.
  • All four finalists in year one were from Iowa. In year two, one of our finalists drove from Niagara Falls, NY. - 820 miles away.
  • All four finalists from year one will have opened a restaurant since entering the competition.
  • Of the visitors to the Iowa’s Best Bite website, only 1 in 4 live in Oskaloosa or Grinnell.
  • Media outlets covering Iowa’s Best Bite include: The Des Moines Register and Juice Magazine, WHO TV 13, WOI TV, KCCI, Newton Daily News, Marshalltown Times Republican, Quick Service Magazine and many smaller newspapers and radio stations.
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What\'s Next

  • We are refining our methods and analyzing the data that we’ve gathered to become more effective
  • We are looking at our website traffic patterns to attempt to understand how we can continue to drive traffic and are planning a much larger social media effort to take advantage of those platforms
  • Continuing to find more ways to involve the public – like developing pre-contest polling to generate excitement about what type of concept the public thinks is most likely to succeed
  • We’re considering ways to tie potential employment at the winning restaurant into the contest
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Angie Schultz

[email protected] • 641-485-0001 • www.oppthumbs.com

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